Let's talk about milk beverages...?

(Shawn Thacker) #1

Hey everyone,

There’s something that’s been bothering me for quite some time and I don’t think I’m the only one…

Can we agree that the cappuccino and latte are becoming less and less relevant today from a specialty coffee standpoint? We’re seeing more and more menus that simply state something like ‘espresso + milk’ as opposed to a laundry list of milk beverages. These E + M drinks might come in a couple of sizes even, but typically use milk that’s been textured in order to pour art (not saying latte art here is very intentional… :wink: ) and is probably closest to a flat white over anything else, no? Even the WBC has switched from calling it a cappuccino to a milk beverage in competition over the past couple of years.

I get that there’s the customer side and someone will say ‘our customers want latte’s, so that’s why we keep them on the menu’. Great, keep doing you! I don’t want to change the world here, I’m just looking for some good feedback and conversation.


Difference between cappuccino and flat white
(Adam Sepe) #2

If customers know the anatomy of milk drinks then sure, I find that I enjoy fine tuning someone’s order based on the “steps” of conventional drinks. For instance, if someone is equivocating between a latte and a cappuccino, I’ll pull a foamier latte, or a wetter cappuccino. I agree with you on this matter, and aside from all the names we give these drinks, they’re really just arbitrary stops on a spectrum of coffee/milk total volume and ratio. I can see some advantages to this graded way of considering milk drinks over the conventional and often confusing name-based way we’ve grown accustomed to. This would also probably curb people’s buying of the trendy new cool drink they just heard of just because they just heard of it. Maybe it’d be better to go based on actual preference instead of repeating what you’ve heard: What kind of coffee? How much? What kind of milk? How much? Foam? Steam?

(joe ) #3

i work at a shop with no cappuccino or latte on the menu, we have the aforementioned espresso and milk listed instead, in a couple of different sizes. i like the theory behind this a lot; we are moving further from italian tradition and further solidifying the current coffee movement, honing in on what the movement generally agrees are enjoyable quality crafted drinks.

it does prove to be confusing for customers at times, you would be surprised at how many customers say, so you don’t do lattes here? and when i say, that would be our espresso and milk, they say, oh thats what a latte is? i can only hope that it doesn’t come across as pretentious. i would say never does the conversation progress to a point where i am able to explain the reasons behind the shop avoiding certain italian words.

(Shawn Thacker) #4

Shawn/Joe/Adam 3 - Cappuccino/Latte - 0


(Tio Nico) #5

Never having been much of a fan of “blended drinks” myself, the complexity and “caché” of having twentyseven variations on the same theme, all named and priced differently, has always seemed more than a bit pretentious to me. I remember my first cafe con panna (spelled properly?) when some friends and I stumbled into what appeared to be a true Italisn style shop in San Francisco one night after dinner at Wong’s, our preffered shoop haing closed whilst we gorged on their amazing food. that was a fine drink, but I enjoyed the straight espresso shot that I got afterward just as much. Different, equally good.

I think the concept of considering all the espresso and milk/dairy drinks as essentially the same thing on a continuum is pretty accurate, though not as eaey to deal with quickly as each customer might describe their preference differently. To reduce it to a formula of percentages of which type of dairy might be considered too harsh or lacking in “class”, though it would be most effective and simple. DOuble restretto with thirty percent full cream, expanded… not very romantic, I should think.

Methinks the whole thing is a trickledown effect coming originally from the folks with the pet green mermaid who had to standardise things to save everyone’s sanity AND preserve the bottom line. It were THEY who trained everyone to think along these lines. I am glad to see at least some “breaking the green mould” and finding out what THIS cllient wants and producing it for THAT ONE, custom, as if he were a dinstinguished guest in our home. Now THAT will gain stong following once it seems “acceptable”.

(Adam Sepe) #6

@tionico if you used a spectral system – with numbers or so, you could indicate – either explicitly through something like a menu or chalkboard or implicitly through barista judgement – where common orders like “latte” fall. For instance: an espresso could represent a 0, and on the other end, a steamer a 10. I guess if you wanna get really nerdy/alphanumeric, you could make your sizes or flavorings letters :nerd_face:. “Uh yeah lemme get an S5 type H”, small hazelnut latte. That might be a little overboard though :laughing:

(Tio Nico) #7

Adam, that is hilarious. You fleshed out in nerdspeak precisely the point I was after!!! Maybe in Silicon Valley or perhaps Austin, maybe even Portland, OR, such a scheme would fly, if only because it would come across as the “latest ahd greatest tech accurate we do it here and nobody else does it… yet” meme. Maybe even a cartoon graphic showing the graduated scale of colour between that doulbe restretto and full skinny milk with one CC of espresso shot tossed in just so you can call it a “coffee drink”. Number the scale on the wall, let customers “dial in” their custom blend. uUse theletter code to call out which type of “whitener” one prefers… from skinny milk to full fat heavy cream, and wander off into goat, almond, coconut, macadamia, rice, and the everpresent wretched soy… maybe even a grass fed option!!